The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong dissident sacked

New Delhi, April 9: A day after “persuading” K. Muralidharan to continue as Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president, the high command today wielded the stick.

It expelled K. Govindan Nair, the party’s rebel candidate for the April 14 Rajya Sabha polls, but left rebellious veteran leader K. Karunakaran untouched.

As per the relevant provisions of the party constitution, Muralidharan expelled Nair from the Congress for six years with immediate effect, party spokesman Jaipal Reddy said this evening.

Muralidharan is also writing to all 62 party MLAs in Kerala, directing them to cast their votes in favour of Vayalar Ravi and T. Balakrishna Pillai — the two official nominees — in the April 14 elections, Reddy added.

The spokesman, however, refused to take questions on the Kerala row over the polls, including the status of Karunakaran, who prodded Nair to file his nomination.

At a separate news conference, Muralidharan asserted that his action against Nair was directed by Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress president asked him to continue as the state chief when he met her last night, Muralidharan said, adding that his letter of resignation was treated as an “expression” of his feelings about the Congress in Kerala.

The state chief said he had spoken to Nair before the expulsion, asking him to retire from the contest. But Nair remained defiant, asserting that he would only obey his leader (Karunakaran).

Muralidharan also contacted his father, who, too, reportedly said Nair would remain in the fray.

Asked why Karunakaran was spared, Muralidharan, who appeared soft on his father, said there could not be any disciplinary move against the “very senior leader”.

Expressing confidence that the two Congress nominees would win, he said the problem within the state unit would be sorted out after the elections, though he could also take up the issue before that. Muralidharan will return to Kerala tomorrow.

Ambika Soni, party general secretary in charge of Kerala affairs, however, said the expulsion was carried out by Muralidharan in his own capacity after consultations with her and AICC general secretary in charge of organisational affairs Oscar Fernandes, and not under direction of Sonia.

But Soni parried queries when asked why no disciplinary action was taken against Karunakaran. Dismissing suggestions that Karunakaran had been neglected by the central leadership, she said that over the past four days, several leaders have been in touch with him to find a way out of the problem.

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